I really am not that much into modern musicals.  I lost my love of the musical with Rent, that overhyped play with a stolen libretto from La Boheme, a lame story line and simply one bad song repeated to exhaustion.  Yes, yes, it had a message.  Sorry, Angels in America had the AIDS message.

Julie Taymor, who gave Broadway the Lion King , was charged with making Spiderman into an overproduced musical that would cover the globe.  The musical element was coming from Bono and the Edge.   After six delays for the official opening and over 180 preview shows and a critical shellacking that Obama would not envy,  Taymor and the Bono team are gone.  New director and new songs will come in to save the $68 million investment.  The new opening date is June 14th.  New director and new songs the idea is will save the investment.

Taymor worked on the production for nine years and now apparently she is stepping off because of a “scheduling conflict” according to the Producers,

Spider-Man” remains one of the top-grossing shows on Broadway each week, usually earning $1.3 million or so. So far roughly 180,000 people have seen the musical, which has earned more $18.3 million at the box office after about 15 weeks of preview performances. Most musicals have about 30 previews, then open, but “Spider-Man” has been changing constantly through the winter as Ms. Taymor dealt with technical glitches and complaints about the clarity and appeal of the story-telling.

The New York critics have problems with complex story line and the bad production look for all that money.  The critics hated it.

There are a couple of issues with this fiasco:

  • How do you take a comic book cum action movie and try to change it into a musical?  Tricks.  Lots of tricks.  In the meantime, we lose the possibility of the art form.    The Fantasticks, the world’s longest running musical?  One piano, a handful of actors, simple story line and amazing songs.  Gripped audiences for decades.  Sure, there is room for over productions, but why does everything infantilize?   Of course theater has is an attraction these days,  an over production.  We have to include all our tricks.  We don’t know how to limit ourselves.  The simplicity in art is eluding us.  We should not be spoon fed all the imagery, feelings and ideas.  Let the mind imagine and wonder when experiencing the performance.  Like nudity, a bit of a look is more scintillating than total nudity.
  • Like Hollywood, the Producers focus grouped the play using the New York critics.  The critics, like the people who comment on blogs, etc, inserted themselves and made the process interactive.   Art now is not from an artists, it is interactive and pandering.  “Tell me what you want and I will give it to you. ”  You can be lazy, you can be comfortable, but don’t bother we will take care of you, just give us your money.  Give us your adoration and we will put you in the cradle and rock you into sublime aesthetic and intellectual numbness.

So, the creative people become industrialized and our appetites become processed and focused to our limited band width.  No wonder we are afraid of others, no wonder we get confused and frustrated with political complexity.  Art is a place where we can practice our entire humanity, not just our ten-year old pleasure zone.